Chasing the White Rabbit Almost Got Us Killed – Room: Return from Wonderland – May 26, 2018

THE QUICK AND DIRTY

Play if… you’ve ever fantasized about the fantastical world of Wonderland.

Avoid if… you don’t know a spade from a club.


THE BASICS

Room Escape Williamsburg:

Address: 1215 Mount Vernon Ave, Suite E, Williamsburg, VA 23185 (click address for Google Map)

Contact and Website: 757-229-1215
http://www.roomescapewilliamsburg.com
info@roomescapewilliamsburg.com

The Room – Return from Wonderland

Description (from the company website): You’ve fallen down the rabbit hole just like Alice.  What strange creatures and environments will you encounter down there? You have 60 minutes to find your way out or you might be stuck in this strange world forever! Curiouser and curiouser…

Difficulty: Success Rate is 32.2%; average escape time is 48.51

Time Limit: 60 minutes

Cost: $27 per person

Identifier: R1

Party Size: 2-6

Staging Area: A small lobby with a few stools and games to play on. There is an ante-room where you get your video briefing.

Metro Access/Parking: It’s in Williamsburg, VA, so no direct public transportation as far as we know. But, there is plenty of parking.


OUR EXPERIENCE

This is the video we took before we entered the room:

This is the video we took just after we completed the room:

Logistics:

Description of the room: You start off in a room with multiple doors and not much else…

Understanding of the Mission: Like Alice, you’ve followed the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole and found yourselves in Wonderland. Unfortunately, getting into Wonderland is much easier than getting out. There is one portal that will allow you to return to the real world, but it closes in 60 minutes. Can you navigate through Wonderland, find the portal, and return home?

Did We Escape: Yes

Time Remaining: 12:07 remaining

Our Suggested Party Size: We did well with 4 people, all of whom have done multiple rooms, but there is enough for 6 people to do.

Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes

Members of our team (other than the ERG): Heather and Steph

Worth the time and money? Yes

Where to Eat/Drink Before/After:

  • Antonio’s Italian Restaurant – we ate here before going to the room, and it was EXCELLENT!
  • You’re in Colonial Williamsburg. Tons of shops and restaurants to choose from.


OUR SCORING:

JASON SAYS: MIKE SAYS:
Overall Expectation (Summary)
I’m always a bit skeptical regarding any theme based on Alice in Wonderland, as there are so many different ways to make it great but so many more ways to screw it up. We chose the Wonderland themed room at Escape Room Williamsburg for precisely that reason.

It looks cool, sounded interesting based on the blurb on their website, so we decided to give it a chance. It turned out to be a bit more difficult than we anticipated, but it was still pretty damn fun. It was a great way to start the weekend we were in Williamsburg.

We were heading to Williamsburg for the long holiday weekend, so – of course – we had to do a room while we were down there. I looked up a few companies and we decided to try out Room Escape Williamsburg because they had two really good themes we wanted to try out (Wonderland and Holy Grail).

Wonderland is a theme that we’ve done before, and we had a good experience there, so we wanted to see what this location’s take was on the same theme. I’m a big fan of the Wonderland story and I’m always curiouser and curiouser as to how the story is developed.

Story (Rating)
There wasn’t much to the story for this room, unfortunately. It was literally you’ve followed Alice down the rabbit hole and find that the hole closes behind you and you’ve got to find your way out before the hole from Wonderland to your World closes in front of you.

Pretty straightforward if you ask me. (And straightforward usually means boring…)

Rating: 4/10

The story line is pretty clear: you’ve followed Alice down the rabbit hole and now have to traverse Wonderland with all of its crazy creatures. That’s pretty much it.

Rating: 5/10

Mission (Rating)
The mission was just as simple as the story: Now that you’re in Wonderland, and the rabbit hole has closed behind you, you have 60 minutes to find your way to the hole leading out of Wonderland before it closes in your face.

Like I said, Wonderland themes can be awesome… Or boring.

I’m super disappointed with the way the mission and story ended up. The room itself was pretty good, as you’ll see by the rest of the review, but the backstory and mission objectives for the room were just too simple.

Rating: 6/10

Find the portal back to your world somewhere in Wonderland before it closes in 60 minutes, or be trapped there forever.

The mission and story ratings we give are super important to me because they are what take you from the outside world and put you directly into the theme you’re playing. I think that if Room Escape Williamsburg beefed up these areas with some additional detail, they’d provide that immediate immersion.

The mission was clear however, and that’s a big part of this rating. We knew exactly what we had to do.

Rating: 6/10

Puzzle Diversity (Rating)
On the plus side, there were plenty of different types of puzzles in this room, ranging anywhere from black light all the way to physical dexterity challenges. There is also some logic, which I absolutely love, as well as what I can really only say was a magic trick. That is honestly doing it no justice whatsoever, but the table is genius.

I’m finding that I enjoy the physical puzzles for multiple reasons. First and foremost is the fact that you just don’t see them very much. Secondly, is because they tend to get you more involved with the room provided they actually tie into the story. The latter is the harder one to accomplish, obviously, but the more escape room owners take the chance to add this to their rooms, not only will they become better at building it but also building the story in such a way that it fits.

That said, I did enjoy that part of the game the most, which is funny because we didn’t even use it properly. (We managed to get out of the room without using it but after talking with Jay after we escaped, it was obvious how smart of a puzzle it was.)

There were also one or two other things that I completely dismissed as being red herrings which we’re not, in actuality, red herrings. One of those things Mike ended up completing on his own after I dismissed it and it helped us solve a puzzle several minutes later.

I have 2 words for you all: tea cups. That is all.

Oh, and this was also only the second ever instance of one puzzle type we have ever seen. I hope you have a steady hand… Or other body parts.

Rating: 10/10

Now we’re getting somewhere. What this room may have been lacking in story and mission, it definitely made up for in the types of puzzles we found.

LOVED everything we had to do in this room. There were logic puzzles, things that challenged your sight and observation, and others that tested memory, and your physical dexterity.

I don’t recall many physical locks that we had to open, so the design of the room was well done in using other types of puzzles and locks to keep you immersed.

Rating: 10/10

Puzzle Complexity (Rating)
We did get stumped once or twice, asking for a nudge here or there, however the difficulty amongst the puzzles was pretty well spread out. Nothing was terribly easy yet nothing was extremely hard (ok, well figuring out how to exit the first room was probably the easiest thing you will do here). There is just always the one puzzle we can’t figure out. That’s where having a larger group always comes in handy (and where Rule Number 8 needs to be followed).

One of the puzzles we had correct, however the mechanics behind it were known to be sketchy. This just tells me that it should be replaced with another puzzle or fixed so it works properly, however when our GM saw we were struggling with it, he chimed in to let us know we had a correct solution and what to do to make it work. (We added the time spent finagling this puzzle back onto our overall time of the end. -1 because they know it was not working right, but +1 for their acknowledgement and telling us how to get it working.)

I would say that this room is a great room for a group of novices, but not so much for a group of ERVs because, some of it is definitely tricky.

Rating: 8/10

With only 4 of us, there was a good mix of complexity that contributed to the flow of the room.

We got out of the first room relatively quickly, and then hit a very short roadblock when we ran out of things to do. Once we stopped and re-set ourselves, we were able to figure out our way through Wonderland.

The final part of the experience is where we had the most fun, I think. There was a lot to do… so much that I wasn’t able to see how every puzzle operated. I did like working on some of the ones that required more observation, and we were able to solve the last puzzle without finding one of the last clues. I’m pretty stubborn when I know that I’m on the right track, so I stuck to this puzzle until the light bulb went off and I was able to figure it out.

It was challenging without being frustrating… pretty accurate for Wonderland. However, we did have a small tech glitch, but we didn’t get too far off track because our GM was really attentive.

Rating: 7.5/10

Flow/Cohesiveness/Uniqueness (Rating)
Probably the best part of this room, for me, was how well thought out the game itself was. From the moment you set foot in the room, you can tell that you’re going to be in for a wild ride based on what you see, what you find, and what you know is going to come (this is Alice in Wonderland after all).

We were able to guess what was going to be in the next part of the game before we figured out how to get there, although what I expected from transitioning from puzzle 1 to puzzle 2 was actually what was something like puzzle 1 to puzzle 5. That’s not to say that anything bad, it’s just that while it was expected it was also unexpected. And that is what I liked the most.

As we progressed through the room, I continued to be somewhat surprised with what was done with the things I expected to find. So while you could say I thought it was predictable, it was also fitting with the theme of being Alice, and being unpredictable.

Wow, I feel like the Mad Hatter right now…

Rating: 8.5/10

While story and mission are important, this is often my favorite section to rate.

Everything fit in this room… not one item felt out of place with the Wonderland theme and that’s saying a lot because I LOOK for that stuff. I really expected the Mad Hatter or the White Rabbit to pop out from somewhere. And that Red Queen? She’s a real bitch!

The first 1/3 of the experience is pretty linear, which is not normally my cup of tea (cup of tea… tea party… HAHAHAHAHA), but it actually worked here. The last 2/3 of the experience was not linear at all, and I think that there was some point where the four of us were all working on different puzzles.

We saw some really cool and unique stuff here, and it was awesome how they related that to parts of Wonderland. Everything was pretty… precise, and that just added to the experience. It’s also good when we are truly surprised because it doesn’t happen that often.

Rating: 8.5/10

Fun/Amusement (Summary)
I did have fun in this room, considering I almost got to take a nap at one point of it. When you get there and see what I’m referring to you’ll understand why I said that. Lots of fun and a bit more of a challenge than we thought it would be.
Game Master (Summary)
Jay was pretty hands off for our experience. He was paying attention, which is good, and when we did ask a question he was quick with his response.

When we got around to interviewing him after the room, we got to see the control center. It was what I envisioned all control centers to look like…

Jay was great! He let us work the rooms (hmmm… that didn’t sound right) until we hit that one stumbling block with the tech glitch. Once we were done, we asked him to explain a few things so that we could comment on the overall flow of the room.

Check out our interview with him (Jason has the link in his rating).

How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)
The clues were helpful in a non condescending type of way. This is, as we always say, the way it should be. We asked for two clues… one that helped us get through the glitchy part, and another was more of a clarification than an outright clue. You’ll see what we mean when you do the room… it’s right at the end.
RAGE Meter ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score
Can I give a half a fist? Do I need to round it up or do I round it down? Not that I really want to give one, it was more just a question that I hadn’t thought about until right now.

Rating:  0/5 Fists

I didn’t feel stupid, so that’s always a good sign.

Rating: — 0/5 Facepalms

ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 7.35/10

Final Thought: Don’t let the rating of this room (specifically the story and mission ratings) fool you: This is a well-constructed and well-crafted room. There’s tons of room for tweaking those two areas, but those ratings are specific to our own rubric that we use to rate all the rooms we do. Sometimes the overall rating may seem much lower than the actual experience was for us… in short, go do this room and have a great time!

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